Archive for March, 2009
“Your true passion should feel like breathing; it’s that natural.”
Are you living your passion? If not, what stops you?
Stress is a major problem for many people. We see countless clients each day who are suffering from various ailments cause by stress and as Massage Therapists we are no exception. Often times we have a hectic schedule, a chaotic home life, and bills to worry about how to pay – especially in this economy. Some of us even have bad habits such as unhealthy eating, drinking and smoking. These habits can lead to stress.
If your life is full of stress, like mine once was, there are some simple things you can do to get your life to a more manageable level. Your life will probably never be stress-free which is a good thing because stress – at a reasonable level – is something that challenges us and helps us grow. But when stress gets too high, it causes us to be unhappy and unhealthy.
It wasn’t that long ago when I was working very long hours and often seven days a week while trying to get my massage practice up and running. I didn’t have time to find a relationship or see my family. I was eating fatty foods and not exercising which helped me to blossom to 163 pounds – not good on a 5’2” frame. I was unhappy and stressed out all the time – and I changed my career from a stressed-out business executive for this?
So I made some drastic changes. I simplified my life. I stopped worrying about where the clients would come from, how I would pay all the bills, and where to hire qualified massage therapists which allowed me to cut back on the number of days and hours I was working. I started eating better and exercising. I learned some habits that, when applied on a daily basis, can really transform the way you live, in a positive way.
How did I do all of this? One thing at a time. I didn’t do a major revamp of my life. I started slowly and changed one habit a month, and gradually over the course of a year or two changed a lot of things in my life.
Although, these tips worked for me, I can’t guarantee that all of them will work for you. Everybody is different. But I encourage you to pick the ones that resonate with you, and give them a try. One at a time.
1. Give it your all – one thing at a time. This is the simplest and best way to start reducing your stress. Focus as much as possible on doing one thing at a time. Pick something to work on. Need to find independent contractors, catch up on paperwork or work on your marketing efforts? These were always big ones for me. Do only the one at a time! Clear all distractions – that includes phones, email, Facebook and other social networking tools while you are working on that one project. You’ll get urges to do other things – believe me and this is normal. Just keep focused – or bring your focus back to the project at hand if you do get side-tracked – and you’ll get better at it.
2. Simplify your schedule. A hectic schedule – jammed packed with 6-8 massage clients per day as well as other social and family commitments – can cause major stress. You can simplify you schedule, and your life, by reducing the number of commitments to just the essential ones. This means you have to determine what is essential. What do you love to do? Do only those things and learn to say no to the rest. Once you have those essentials only schedule only a few important things each day, and put space between them. This allows time for some fun and relaxation.
3. Simplify your finances. Finances can be a drain on your energy and a major stressor. If you find this to be true for you, figure out ways to simplify things. Automate bill payments as well as setting aside money in savings. If you find that you are not making enough money to pay all of the bills and think you have to make more money, I say that you don’t. Start with spending less and cutting unnecessary expenses. Maybe you are buying one too many Lattes at the local Starbucks. Or maybe you don’t watch television and you can eliminate cable or downsize the package that you are paying for. What can you cut out today?
4. Declutter. Perhaps because of my Feng Shui background, this is a favorite of mine. I am constantly decluttering my house. Feng Shui (pronounced “fung shway”) is an ancient Chinese art of arranging your environment so that it is most favorable to your well-being both physically and financially. We should only have in our possession things that we use and love, anything else is clutter and causes us stress. Let’s face we are dynamic creatures constantly changing. After a time, we may no longer like doing something — perhaps a hobby – or some particular object, regardless who gave it to us. I like to take some time each day and go through a room, getting rid of stuff we don’t use or need anymore. I either toss it, give it away, donate it or put it on eBay or craigslist so that someone else can enjoy it. When I’m done, I have a nice, peaceful environment that is more conducive to work and play.
5. Get moving. Do something each day to be active! Get out in nature by going for a walk or a hike. Exercise by going for a run or playing a sport. Do yoga or go dancing. Just do something to get your body moving. It doesn’t have to be grueling to reduce stress. Try to have fun doing it or your just might create another form of stress.
“Give deep thought to what you want to create in your life. Consider each of the various areas of your life, and focus on what you do want, not what you don’t. Get in touch with your inner truth, your authentic dreams, goals, and your heartfelt desires. Honor these and own them without fear, shame or inhibition. Your dreams and desires are not subject to anyone else’s approval. They are yours and yours alone, define them in order to achieve them.”
- Jack Canfield
We are massage therapists. We are supposed to be very nurturing, but sometimes work can be a drag especially if you own the business. You get caught up in trying to be more productive and suddenly your life turns into a series of to-do lists. You measure of success by how much you accomplish. You even determine how happy you allow yourself to be by how much you’ve gotten done that day.
Suddenly work feels like a chore. You don’t enjoy giving massages anymore. You just go through your day like a zombie, doing one massage after another, then doing all of the other projects that need to be done just so it can be over with. Then you can feel good, right? But wait, there’s that thing you forgot about. You still need to do that. And oh yeah, there’s that other thing you haven’t done yet.
Congratulations, you are a walking to-do list.
But work doesn’t have to be like that. The point of work – even giving massages – shouldn’t be just to finish. The point of work should be the work itself. That’s the way it’s supposed to be anyway.
We spend a lot of time trying to find ways to be more productive. To do things faster, better, cheaper and spend our time more effectively. But instead of just doing more in less time, maybe we should focus on actually enjoying the work we’re doing instead. I mean, why did we become massage therapists in the first place?
Here are 8 ways to make work seem like less of a chore and more like a gift:
1. Follow your natural rhythms. A lot of the time I resent working is because I’m trying to force myself to do something I don’t feel like doing. Naturally there will always be some things you’re not crazy about doing (like doing taxes). But how often do you force yourself to work more, when you really want to relax? When you force yourself to work when you’ve promised yourself a break, you’ll likely just end up distracting yourself with other things and put off working or you will work taking on that one last massage of the day but your heart won’t be in it. Then you get stressed and end up resenting work. Instead, follow your natural rhythms. When you feel like working, work. When you don’t, don’t. Don’t over complicate things.
2. Do, don’t think. I’m going to stay true to this point and not think about writing something elaborate. Just do, stop thinking about it. Fail, make corrections later.
3. Don’t put sugar in your tank. You wouldn’t put sugar in your gas tank right? It doesn’t make much sense to fill your body up with unhealthy fuel either. If you don’t have the energy to get the work you need to done, work will feel forced.
4. Remove hidden roadblocks. What’s making you avoid working? What’s making your work seem like drudgery rather than joyful? It might have something to do with your beliefs about yourself. Maybe you believe you’re not good enough, not smart enough or don’t have enough experience. Question your beliefs about what you can and can’t do.
5. Only do your best. Work can easily become a chore when you’re trying to constantly be perfect. The truth is some of your work might not be so great. You may not relate to a particular client. You may be second-guessing what your client’s fidgeting on the table means. If you can accept that and just do your best, you stop judging yourself. Guess what it feels like when you’re no longer picking over everything you do with a fine toothed comb? It feels extremely liberating. It feels like you can actually enjoy your experience, rather than worrying about how everything is going to turn out. That is working effortlessly.
6. Follow your intuition. When you think you have a great idea, believe it. Follow it. Chase it until you’re out of breath and can barely hold yourself up. If you don’t trust yourself, you’ll regret it later.
7. Focus on what matters. Our minds are constantly pulling us in different directions. We have a tendency to follow what’s urgent instead of what’s important. In order to get the important things done, we have to be ruthless at removing distractions. If it takes bringing a laptop (or notepad) to a cafe to write your book, then do that. Remove all distractions so you can focus on the important things.
8 Refuse to do what you don’t want to do. I often avoid working because I’m trying to do things I think I “should do.” Forget what you think you should do Do what you want to do. Other people will understand. In fact, they’ll probably envy you.
Welcome to Motivations Mondays. Here is your quote for the week…
“We’ve got to have a dream if we are going to make a dream come true.”
- Denis Waitley
What are some of your dreams? If you don’t have any (for your life or business), take time right now and dream big. If you would like to share any of your dreams, do so here.
When you make a mistake, big or small, cherish it like it’s the most precious thing in the world because in some ways, it is.
I can just hear you now, “What? Celebrate my mistakes? Are you crazy? I just lost a lot of money because I did …” Celebrating our mistakes, goes against the norm. Most of us feel bad when we make mistakes, beat ourselves up about it, feel like failures, get mad at ourselves. We have been taught from a young age that mistakes are bad and that we should try to avoid making them.
Mistakes can be painful. You can lose friends, money, or time. People can yell at you. Yet without mistakes, we could not learn or grow.
If you think about it that way, mistakes should be cherished and celebrated for being one of the most amazing things in the world. Mistakes make learning possible. They make growth and improvement possible.
By trial and error — trying things, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes — we have figured out how to make electric light and to fly.
Think about how we learn. We don’t just consume information about something and instantly know it or know how to do it. Instead, you get information about something, from reading, another person or from observing usually … then you construct a model in your mind … then you test it out by trying it in the real world … then you make mistakes … then you revise the model based on the results of your real-world experimentation … and repeat, making mistakes, learning from those mistakes, until you’ve pretty much learned how to do something.
Mistakes are how we learn to do something new — because if you succeed at something, it’s probably something you already knew how to do. You haven’t really grown much from that success — at most it’s the last step on your journey, not the whole journey. Most of the journey was made up of mistakes, if it’s a good journey.
So if you value learning, if you value growing and improving, then you should value mistakes. They are amazing things that make a world of brilliance possible. So the next time you make a mistake, don’t berate yourself, celebrate because you are about to learn something new.
What mistakes have you make, either in business or in your personal life, that have been a blessing in disguise?
Welcome to Motivation Mondays. Here is your quote for the week.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Very simple yet so true. Sometimes we forget that we are in control of our feelings and emotions. Your thoughts? What can you do to remind yourself that you are in control?
Sometimes we can become so focused on our business with all of the hats that we wear as Practitioner, Accountant, Marketer, Webmaster that we forget to have a little fun. You know the old adage, “All work and no play, makes you very dull.”
In order to avoid burnout, I suggest you do take time for yourself and have some fun. “FUN” is like “SUCCESS”. Everyone has their own definition for it. But allow me to give you some suggestions that will hopefully foster your own ideas of fun:
· Have a picnic with your significant other
· Go to the movies with your significant other
· Take your kids to the movies
· Play with your animals
· Take a nap
· Listen to music
· Go shopping (If you don’t have the money, don’t go on a shopping spree but the purchase of a special item would be a nice thing to do for yourself.)
· Do your hobby (Don’t have a hobby? Take up one. Here are some of mine to get you thinking about what you might like to do. Cooking Photography, Card Making, Creative Memories Scrap booking, dancing)
· Play your favorite sport
· Take up a new sport
· Take a long walk
· Go dancing
Another thought as I close this Success Strategy is that you must allow yourself a vacation. I talk to so many Massage Therapists who haven’t been on vacation in years. This is not good. We must allow ourselves downtime to relax, rejuvenate and re-group (I get some of my best business/marketing ideas while on vacation or right after coming back).
You might be saying to yourself, “Yeah, that would be nice, but I can’t afford a vacation.” Whether it is a monetary issue or a feeling that you can’t be away from your clients, my answer to both, is that you can’t afford not to take a vacation.
Your clients go on vacation and expect that you will do the same. They will be there when you return. Now, I will admit that my first year in business, I didn’t take a vacation and I worked 7 days a week and very long hours. My second year in business, I was only able to take a few mini vacations (3-5 days). By the third year, I was back to taking a couple of weeks a year. However, my last few years in my practice, I took between 4-7 weeks vacation per year and didn’t lose one client because of it. Planning is all you need.
As far as the monetary issue goes, there are lots of ways to take inexpensive vacations. How do you think that I can afford to go on 4-7 weeks vacation per year? You may want to look into the following:
· Renting a week timeshare on Web sites like e-Bay. A lot of times you can get very inexpensive weeks that way because people who own timeshares aren’t able to use one of their weeks so they usually just sell it for their yearly maintenance fee.
· House swap. There are lots of Web sites out there catering to people who want to swap there house for yours (some are free to join but some involve a fee to become a member.)
· Receive emails from last minute travel deal Web sites like www.TravelZoo.com. I get these emails weekly and you wouldn’t believe the incredible deals.
Are you moving or becoming stagnant? How do you stay fresh and moving in the right direction?